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The Psychology of Sharks and Seals

This activity enables you to look at your interpersonal style and at your style in relationship to the styles of others.  You may find the activity most helpful if you first complete the activity and then read the discussion that follows.  Once you have completed the discussion, return to the activity and reconsider your responses.  Also, this will be a good time to consider your style in relationship to the styles of others.

Here focus is on your basic nature.  It is important to get in touch with who you really are and to avoid responding in terms of how you would like to be or how you would like to be seen by others.  In each of the five sets below, consider the descriptions of each personality type, get in touch with who you really are, and then circle either “A” or “B,” depending on which one most closely parallels your nature.  It may help to think in terms of how you would respond or react during times of stress or tension.  It is at these times when one’s real nature tends to come to the surface.

1-A: SHARKS  Sharks are involved and decisive.  They are very much into being individuals who are not part of the group and who definitely operate in their own interest.  Being involved takes the form of being extremely alert, aware of what is going on, and prepared to act quickly and efficiently.  Decisiveness is a major characteristic, with sharks being able to make a decision and act on it without hesitation or second guessing.

B: SEALS  Seals are helpful and playful.  They are definitely part of the group and social participation is a high priority for them.  They like being helpful, doing things for and with others, and making things work out well for everyone.  They also have an ability to be helpful in a fun way, with playfulness being one of their primary characteristics.

2-A: LIONS  Lions are assertive and positive.  They loudly make their presence known and are immediately recognized and are always attended to.  Their assertiveness serves them well in terms of furthering their point of view, their ideas, and their view of the situation and how it should be.  They are also positive, expect to succeed, assume that others will respond to their needs and interest, and take the attitude that they never lose but only sometimes need a little more time to win.

B: LAMBS  Lambs are loyal and gentle.  A lamb is the type who says she will do anything for you and really means it.  A lamb’s loyalty causes her to go the last mile for anyone to whom the lamb is loyal.  They are also recognizable by their gentleness, ability to go with the flow, and the certain knowledge that they will never become aggressive, abrasive, or menacing.

3- A: BEARS  Bears are spontaneous and relaxed.  Their spontaneity results in their being a lot of fun, easy to be around much of the time, and always ready to be part of the action and usually responsible for spontaneously initiating the action.  Bears also appear to be quite relaxed, laid back, and always in control.  They do have a tendency to go into hibernation if things get a little out of their control or are not quite the way they want them to be and also have a tendency to get a little carried away with what are sometimes bone-crushing bear hugs when they want to press their point, with those “hugs” coming up fairly spontaneously and a little unpredictably.

B: BEAVERS  Beavers are very responsible and open.  They do what is expected, always follow through with their commitments, and are intent on taking care of the piece of the world that has been assigned to them.  This responsibility combines with openness to make them very accepting, very up front and sharing, and willing to work with anyone under almost any circumstances.  Their sense of responsibility does get a little rigid sometimes in terms of doing things the way they are supposed to be done whether that is exactly what the situation calls for or not.  Their openness may occasionally be seen as gullibility and does have the tendency to make them vulnerable to those who are less scrupulous.  Nonetheless, they do what they do very well, especially if it is not of concern that they seem to have virtually no capacity to do other than what they do.

4-A: TIGERS  Tigers are energetic and attractive.  They are real go-getters who enjoy taking on a challenge to which they can bring nearly boundless energy.  They are also extremely attractive in terms of others being attracted to them.  Their attractiveness draws a crowd to them quickly; and they have the good fortune of having the energy to deal with all of the attention.  They are great at getting things started but sometimes may lack a little in the follow through or persistence department.  It has also been pointed out that tigers are sexy which is not surprising since they are obviously attractive and do have the energy to “stay out all night and cat around:” a good pastime for a tiger.

B: TURTLES  Turtles are dependable and patient.  They can be counted on in the short run and in the long run.  This includes sticking to the path, persevering under difficult circumstances, and an ability to endure the gusty winds and bumpy roads inherent in the journey.  Their patience really is a virtue of the first order, giving them the ability to wait until it all blows over or things clear up.  They do have a tendency to crawl into their shells when the going gets tough or stress gets high; but they are well protected within the shell and will always be there when the time comes to start again.  They have also been seen as extremely thorough and able to do a job, especially if it doesn’t matter how long it takes.

5-A:  BUZZARDS  Buzzards are flexible and supportive.  They have the long view, the broad perspective, and are very good about cleaning up the messes of others.  They are what has been described as troubleshooters and problem finders, although their problem solving is sometimes excessive and may seem like overkill.  They are also supportive, since they do not need a goal and mission of their own.  They can get involved sometimes without even being asked and will support which ever cause or side they happen to be on at the time.  Nonetheless, it is important to emphasize the buzzard’s ability to adjust to almost any difficult or complex situation, his ability to find problems where there may not have been any that were obvious to any one else, and his willingness to work toward whatever end seems most appropriate and expedient at the time.

B: BEES  Bees are consistent and accepting.  Their constancy allows them to do the things they do in a regular and predictable way.  They are easy to be around since their styles are so recognizable and definable.  They are also accepting and seem not to mind changes in situations or circumstances, the ups and downs experienced by others with whom they associate, and the fact that the world is not always as others think it should always be.  These positive qualities are only somewhat diminished by the bee’s tendency to “stick it to you” when you might least expect it because the bee is so sweet and honey like that it is hard to get upset or annoyed with her, although things do get a little sticky from time to time.

(Note) It is really a jungle out there and is also important to understand the animals and to understand the animal group to which you belong.  There is also the socialized civilized side of things, though.  This is where consideration and tolerance come in.  They are not of the nature of individuals but need to be learned over time and carefully cultivated.  Using a 5-point scale with 5 representing very high, 4 representing high, 3 representing medium, 2 representing low, and 1 representing very low, how would you rate yourself in terms of being considerate with others in your family?  Using the same rating scale, how would you rate yourself in terms of being tolerant with other people in your family?  Can you give three examples of your being considerate and three of your being tolerant to support your rating?

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